Audio Adventures

Audio Adventures

  • Experience a day in the life of a scientist in the Australian highlands with this immersive audio-visual adventure.
  • This Audio Adventure includes:
    • Steve's Team Starts Up the   Mountain
    • How's the Humidity?
    • Collecting Leaf Litter and Insects
    • A Stinging Tree
    • An Unfortunate Worm (or The   Pitfall of Being an Ant)
    • Sexy Gardening with a Bowerbird






Australian Cloud Forest. Get Flash plug-in now


Rare birds and frogs, a cool evening breeze, stinging trees, leeches.  It’s all in a day’s work for climate researchers in a cloud forest.

A cloud forest is a specific type of rainforest found only in mountainous regions. Temperatures are much cooler than in surrounding lowland forests. Low cloudbanks form over the mountains, covering the forest with clouds much of the time, bringing a constant source of moisture. Large amounts of water are deposited directly onto vegetation from clouds and light mist. Tree trunks are often covered with mosses, bromeliads, ferns, and other plants. The distinctive weather conditions make cloud forests unique ecosystems, home to thousands of plants and animals which can be found nowhere else on Earth.

We’re in Queensland, Australia, about 100 miles northwest of Cairns, in the Carbine Tablelands.  Mount Lewis provides an ideal setting for Earthwatch ecologist Steve Williams and his team to study the effects of a changing climate on local fauna.

How do you take the pulse of a mountain’s ecosystems, where the temperature changes as the elevations rise?  The short answer is you do your experiments – gather your samples and data - at various elevations. 

In this Audio Adventure, you’ll hear a number of experiments in progress – taking the relative humidity using a hygrometer, digging ant traps, gathering leaf litter, conducting a bird survey.  You’ll also hear some of the sounds of the cloud forest, most notably the almost continual wash of the wind as it moves through the canopy of trees.  Although the winds rarely stop, the sounds of the local fauna change from dawn to dusk.  At night, in the higher elevations, you can hear the calls of frogs – some of which are found only on Mt. Lewis.

There is strong evidence that temperatures in the region are rising, and as they do, it affects the animals living on Mt. Lewis.  Many of the frogs, for example, can only survive in cooler temperature ranges.  If temperatures continue to rise, they will likely go extinct.  Steve Williams and his team are gathering the evidence they need to present to their government and to the scientific c ommunity of how climate change is affecting the rainforest ecosystem.
Because the  accents can be challenging to non-Australian ears, we’ll give you some partial transcripts, too.



Interested in joining Steve Williams on his next expedition? You can!  To find out more about his work go to Steve's expedition page on

Audio Adventures

Our thanks to Steve Williams and Earthwatch
Suzanne Jenkins and CSIRO
Martin Cohen, Rachel Groom, Rohan Wilson, Colin and the rest of the team

Photo Credits:
Earth Maps courtesy NASA World Wind
Bowerbird: Daniela Trick
Stinging Tree: Damon Ramsey of
All other photos: Jim Metzner & members of the Williams 10/06 Earthwatch team

Flash animation by

For further information on Australia’s Rainforests: